The Friendship Circle Pittsburgh

Friendship Circle begins construction on new Squirrel Hill home

Gives youth with special needs a place they can call their own

PITTSBURGH, November 10, 2014 -- Friendship Circle announced that construction will begin this week on a multi-million dollar renovation to create its new space, which is located at 1922 Murray Avenue, formerly Gullifty's restaurant, in Squirrel Hill. Offering unique programs and shared opportunities, Friendship Circle is a Jewish organization that fosters powerful, lasting relationships between teens and children who have special needs.

"Friendship Circle began eight years ago with about a dozen volunteers and a desire to remove barriers for children with special needs," explained Chuck Perlow, a founding board member and co-chair of the capital campaign. "Today, this vibrant program works through nearly 300 active teen volunteers and more than 120 friends who are no longer defined by their disabilities. This unique space will be a celebration of the dramatic connections created and those yet to come."

Launched in Pittsburgh in 2006, Friendship Circle has more than 200 alumni and has been run by Rabbi Mordy Rudolph and his wife Rivkee since its inception. Set to open in 2015, the 10,000 square foot venue will include:

      - A first floor storefront with glass windows along the Murray Avenue front of the venue, opening it to the community. This floor will include a multi-purpose space with a performance stage, a teen lounge, a gallery/pop-up space and new elevator. The floor will be anchored by a working kitchen for cooking clubs and other opportunities.

      - A second floor with work pods will allow youth with special needs to actively participate in the planning processes and "behind the scenes work" of the Friendship Circle in a supported work setting, a play space for younger children, a parent lounge and executive office and conference room space for the staff of Friendship Circle.

      - A rooftop garden and outdoor recreational space will also be created to maximize the footprint of the building and provide space for members to garden and enjoy the outdoors.

Working on the new venue are architects Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff and Goettel, and construction manager John Paul Busse of F.J. Busse Company. Stuart Horne, an architect with Seigle Solow Horne and former Friendship Circle board member, is the design architect for the project. The new venue will be completely ADA compliant, with parking behind the building as well as metered on street parking.

The Friendship Circle, established in Pittsburgh's Jewish community in 2006, is dedicated to helping children and young adults with special needs to become more fully integrated into the broader community. Since 1994, Friendship Circle organizations have been created in more than 60 cities around the world. The program allows young children and young adults with special needs to enjoy the company of teenage and young adult volunteers in a full range of social activities. The Friendship Circle aims to enrich the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions, creating lasting friendships which consequently strengthen both the Jewish and greater community. The programs pays the cost of all participant and volunteer fees. For more information, call 412-244-4440, email or go to

Media interested in a jpg rendering of the new venue can contact Megan Earley or Kelley Denny at, or call 717-856-6085.